The cellular trafficking of numerous G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) is known to be regulated by Rab proteins that involves a direct protein:protein interaction between the receptor and the GTPase. In the case of the human prostacyclin receptor (hIP), it undergoes agonist-induced internalization and subsequent Rab11a-dependent recyclization involving an interaction between a Rab11-binding domain (RBD) localized within its carboxyl-tail domain with Rab11a. However, the GPCR-interacting domain on Rab11a itself is unknown. Hence, we sought to identify the region within Rab11a that mediates its interaction with the RBD of the hIP. The α4 helix region of Rab11 was identified as a novel binding domain for the hIP, a site entirely distinct from the Switch I/Switch II -regions that act as specific binding domain for most other Rab and Ras-like GTPase interactants. Specifically, Glu138 within α4 helix of Rab11a appears to contact with key residues (e.g. Lys304) within the RBD of the hIP, where such contacts differ depending on the agonist-activated versus -inactive status of the hIP. Through mutational studies, supported by in silico homology modelling of the inactive and active hIP:Rab11a complexes, a mechanism is proposed to explain both the constitutive and agonist-induced binding of Rab11a to regulate intracellular trafficking of the hIP. Collectively, these studies are not only the first to identify α4 helix of Rab11a as a protein binding domain on the GTPase but also reveal novel mechanistic insights into the intracellular trafficking of the hIP, and potentially of other members of the GPCR superfamily, involving Rab11-dependent mechanisms.
Mulvaney, E. P., O’Meara, F., Khan, A. R., O’Connell, D. J., & Kinsella, B. T. (2017). Identification of α-helix 4 (α4) of Rab11a as a novel Rab11-binding domain (RBD): Interaction of Rab11a with the Prostacyclin Receptor. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Cell Research, 1864(10), 1819–1832. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbamcr.2017.07.010